Wide support for government health plan: poll
Sun Jun 21, 2009
Americans strongly support fundamental changes to the healthcare system and a move to create a government-run insurance plan to compete with private insurers, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll published on Saturday.
The poll came amid mounting opposition to plans by the Obama administration and its allies in the Democratic-controlled Congress to push through the most sweeping restructuring of the U.S. healthcare system since the end of World War Two.
Republicans and some centrist Democrats oppose increasing the government's role in healthcare -- it already runs the Medicare and Medicaid systems for the elderly and indigent -- fearing it would require vast public funds and reduce the quality of care.
But the Times/CBS poll found 85 percent of respondents wanted major healthcare reforms and most would be willing to pay higher taxes to ensure everyone had health insurance. An estimated 46 million Americans currently have no coverage.
Seventy-two percent of those questioned said they backed a government-administered insurance plan similar to Medicare for those under 65 that would compete for customers with the private sector. Twenty percent said they were opposed.
President Barack Obama and many Democrats in Congress have argued a publicly run healthcare insurance plan would increase competition and drive down the high cost of care at a time when the U.S. economy is mired in a deep recession...
Obama's healthcare push on rocky road in Congress
Jun 21, 2009
By Donna Smith
...Obama and his fellow Democrats, who control Congress, have enormous political capital invested in succeeding at providing affordable medical coverage to the millions of uninsured Americans, after decades of failed efforts by others, including the previous Democratic president, Bill Clinton.
But opposition is building even as a group of senators tries this week to negotiate a proposal they hope will quiet critics and win bipartisan support.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus said he was confident he could craft such a bill.
"We're working together and we're getting closer and closer to a deal every day," he said in a statement. "I'm as confident as ever we'll deliver a bipartisan health care reform bill to the President this year."
But Baucus is working with only few Republicans and there are no guarantees he will succeed.
"I'm certainly willing to try to do something and do it right, but we're a long way from that," Republican Senator Orrin Hatch told reporters.
Public drafting sessions by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee have been marked by partisan bickering over costs and the role of the government.
Democrats want a new government plan to compete with insurance companies and "keep them honest."
Republicans say that would drive insurers out of business and lead to a government-run healthcare system...
[Maura Larkins' note: Don't they really mean it would cut profits for insurance companies? Which is more important, the health of the nation, or the profits of unscrupulous insurance companies?]